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Aligning Your Coaching Culture to Organizational Strategy

 

A panel discussion with leaders who have successfully adopted and led systemic and systematic coaching approaches. [Video Replay]

Executive coaching is a growing reality in many organizations at the highest levels of business. When done well, it is not deemed “remedial help,” but as an investment with a high return in more effective, engaged leadership. When coaching permeates multiple organizational levels within a systemic and systematic coaching culture, it likewise translates to more effective, engaged employees.

Hear from three business leaders who’ve initiated, sustained, and improved systemic and systematic coaching within their organizations.

Takeaways from this panel discussion include:

  • Understanding the difference between coaching and how systemic and systematic approaches are beneficial together.
  • How to assess organizational need(s) in a way that gains buy-in and acceptance from the key stakeholders.
  • How to avoid pitfalls in designing, training, implementing, and sustaining such an approach to coaching.

You may be interested in this additional content from Waldron's Effective Organizations practice:

 

Video Transcript

Originally recorded March 18th, 2021

Kim Bohr:

Hello, everyone. Welcome. We are excited to have you here.

We have the three panelists with us here today. We have Kara Woods Hamilton, who is the Chief People Officer at Smartsheet. A tremendous amount of background started with Smartsheet when it was a very small little tiny company. We have Greg Till is the EVP and Chief People Officer of Providence Health Systems. Very large healthcare organization doing deeply important work right now in our country. And we have Kim Wells who's joining us as the director of organizational effectiveness, initiatives and training. And she is with Fred Hutch and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

And so please welcome our panelists. And I want to give them just a moment to be able to share a little bit about themselves, and then we're going to launch right into the questions. Greg, do you mind launching us into telling everybody a little bit about yourself and I'm going to stop sharing our PowerPoint now and let everybody see you fully.

Greg Till:

It's such a privilege to be talking to folks, and on this panel with such esteemed folks who I respect and admire quite a bit. I'm delighted to be here representing Providence St. Joseph Health. Providence is an organization that's been around for over 175 years started by a group of women. We make up the third largest health system in the United States. We have over 120,000 caregivers, 51 hospitals, over a thousand clinics and have been doing a lot of pioneering through our new COVID world. And so I'm really excited to be part of this mission-led, values-based organization.

For me personally, I've been here for about seven years. Started as the chief talent officer and moved into the chief HR role a couple of years ago. Prior to that, I worked in consulting and defense and had lots of great experience with what's worked and what hasn't worked with related to executive coaching and how to get the best results. I'm really excited to share some of my learnings and also learn from the other panelists.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Thank you so much. And Kara, will you share next, please.

Kara Woods Hamilton:

Absolutely.  I'm so happy to be here. I'm Kara Hamilton. I'm with Smartsheet. Smartsheet we provide a SAS platform for collaborative work management. And similar to Greg's organization, we are also mission-led and our mission is to empower anyone to drive meaningful change. I've been with the organization for almost nine years and I'm still delighted with that mission and I love seeing our customers drive change in their worlds and follow their dreams. I've always said that Smartsheet's mission is to help everyone achieve theirs.

We have about 2000 employees now. As Kim mentioned, I started when we were about 30 people and I actually started in a combined finance HR role, and I've grown with the company. We're in four countries. I'm excited to hear from the other panelists as well and to engage in this conversation because coaching has made a really big difference for us, and I've seen it firsthand.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Thank you. And thanks for being here also. And Kim, we'd love to hear about your background as well.

Kim Wells:

Well, thank you again Waldron for putting this panel together. Delighted to be here and to share some space with you all and to meet Greg and Kara. At Fred Hutch and SCCA, those two combined organizations are about 5,000 folks. Our mission we are as you might imagine, very mission-driven, both of treating cancer patients. And on the Hutch research side, it's not only to eliminate cancer, we'd be so bold as to say that, but it's also to help eliminate other diseases that affect humankind. And we have groups in Uganda, we have groups around the world. And this past year has been quite a ride for us because we've been front and center in the COVID research and have been the group testing all the vaccines related to Operation Warp Speed.

So we have a group of, believe it or not, of less than a hundred of our 5,000 people that are doing that work. They literally are in touch with Anthony Fauci and team on a weekly basis. It's been amazing to watch their work and we're calling them our local heroes within the system. And I like Kara have been both believe in coaching and its tremendous effect that it can have on people's growth. Both as a person who has always wanted to get a coach for myself, as a person who needed some, I wanted to get some perspective, but I've also seen how it can either do tremendous good or not gain enough traction. And so that has led to a lot of how we've approached the whole systemic approach to the coaching. I'm great to be here.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Thank you. And welcome everybody. So let's launch in. This is such a robust topic and it's really got so much nuance in it. And it's really important to understand from each of your perspectives, how you define this really important topic and how it's come to shape inside your organizations. So Greg, I'd love to start with you. Can you please share with us your organization's evolution into this idea of systemic and systematic coaching culture and the strategy you really started to bring from your lens with it?

Greg Till:

Yeah, we really pull things together about four years ago. As a system made up of 51 hospitals, that really is an aggregation through mergers and acquisitions and partnerships. We had 51 ways of doing everything. And so we've integrated a lot of that over the last 10 years, but our executive coaching practices weren't integrated until about four years ago. And so as you can imagine, we had lots of different results from coaching, lots of different intense, with respect to what we were using executive coaching for. And about four years ago, we pulled that all together for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that we wanted to integrate it with our strategic processes. What was the strategic intent of coaching? How has it linked up with our mission and values? And then, how do we link it up with our talent practices, our succession planning and our talent pipeline processes to make sure it was intentional? Secondarily, we did that to make sure that we had a high quality pool of executive coaches that were focused on the outcomes that really mattered. I'm not sure about Kara and Kim, but I've been in several organizations before that been a lot of fix-it coaching. This person really isn't working out, can we get them a coach as our last resort? We found that to be, frankly, a waste of money. It hasn't worked. We haven't measured very effective results. And so we have done a lot to really call to bait a coaching pool that's focused on the same kind of mission values and strategy that we are.

And then third, I would say, and I kind of hit in the last one, but we really started to measure outcomes. We apply what we call a qualitative ROI to all coaching engagements, to try to measure the success of not just the initiatives itself, but of the leaders value overall to the organization as a part of our executive pipeline. Literally in the last four years, we've gone from kind of a wild West of coaching to a pretty systemic program that's delivered great results for the organization and has allowed us to, frankly, hone our partnerships, like the one that we have with Roadring to ... Just those organizations that are similarly aligned from a strategic perspective and can produce the outcomes that we want. That's a little bit about our program and kind of how we got from here to there.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Thank you so much. And that alignment is really important for sure. Kara, what about you? I know Smartsheet is a little younger. Tell us about this journey that you've all been on.

Kara Woods Hamilton:

Yeah. So our journey started about two years ago. Similar to Greg's point, we've really been concentrated on using this as a tool for our development. We had a couple of missteps in the past of using it for performance and as Greg indicated, it does not work well for that. About two years ago, we launched coaching for our senior leadership team. So Smartsheet went public in 2018 and that was a moment where we really solidified, okay, who's our senior leadership team? Who are the section 16 officers? And then following that, that team of eight people participated in an IDP development work.

So we did a 360 followed by coaching, and I was very insistent that we don't separate those two, if we're going to go through the work of the 360 and the evaluation that we were going to give people the gift of coaching so that they ... I just had this image of it just like going in a drawer and everyone just feeling bad instead of developing an IDP and really working with our CEO. Each of us worked with the CEO as our sponsor. It was a big deal to start. We had several members of the leadership team who had been through processes before that didn't feel as connected and feel worthwhile. And we have extended now to provide coaching to people moving into higher leadership positions as they develop themselves, but it's not a gate, it's an investment to support them.

Kim Bohr:

So one of the things you mentioned IDP, individual development plans, in case anyone joining us isn't as familiar with the term. So really looking at this as a, what's working for them, and then how does their work impact in the full team, correct?

Kara Woods Hamilton:

Absolutely. So taking that information that we're getting from the 360, reflecting on that, working with the coach and then developing, okay, where can I as a leader develop? And I went through this process myself and it was really remarkable change that I was able to experience in having that data and reflecting on it, building, who do I want to be as a leader? What does my team need from me? What does the senior leadership team need from me? What do I need from myself? It's a deep work, but I think it's worthwhile work.

Kim Bohr:

Absolutely. And Kim, what about you? What have you all done inside your organization?

Kim Wells:

So much like what Greg and Kara were saying, we were truly kind of the Wild West. And so culturally we believed in bringing in coaches. And the VPs were choosing coaches left and right. And it wasn't up until about probably three years ago, I'd say, I think we're a year behind Greg. Folks were hiring coaches they knew or asking us for coaches. We begin to kind of be pretty dissatisfied. We had absolutely had some coaching for problematic areas and we knew that that was not particularly useful. And we had long kind of begun to understand that. We also found that we were losing sponsorship or connection with the coachee's own leader.

So what was happening is we were seeing that leaders who had initially sponsored coaching would step away and let the coach become almost like a second manager. And so it was a big hole that we were seeing in the process and decided that we needed much more rigor. We also wanted to have a much tighter assessment at the beginning even of coachability. Was someone really prepared to take their 360 feedback or take some areas of growth that they've identified as a new executive leader, and lean in to the process? Because if you're going to do that work, it's intense.

We found that that was a key thing that we added in the beginning, a coachability assessment process. And then a true sponsor kind of assessment and lean into the, if you're the VP or you're the president, how engaged are you going to be throughout the process so that your colleague feels like they can make some strives, practice, fail, and come back to you?

And then measuring. We had not implemented enough measurement in our process. While we don't tie our coaching because our strategic planning and someway is really squishy, related to the client, it's usually around effectiveness as a leader regarding particular competencies. And so, can we measure those on the end? We found really key.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. There's two pieces that I've felt were thematic here. And so one is each of you, in some form, mentioned having worked with people that had experienced really poor coaching outcomes or not just coaching, we just felt like it didn't work. It didn't resonate with them. When you went into what you were designing, what's perhaps one thing you would advise the audience to keep in mind that is going to help convince that person, and maybe it's a critical person that needs to be convinced that this approach can be different? Greg, what would you say to that?

Greg Till:

Well, I think we need to be really clear about what the purpose of the coaching is. I think coaching has a bad rep because some organizations and coaches do fix it coaching. We do have a process for that, it's called performance management. And if you mix those things together, or if you have life coaching mixed with your executive kind of results based coaching, it can get a bad rep. And so, number one, I think just being clear on what the overall purpose is. Number two, I think cultivating the coaching pool. Everyone today can become a certified coach. And so it's really important that you do a lot of work on the front end to cultivate the coaching pool to folks that are aligned with the purpose of your coaching program. And then I think just measurement. I mean, in HR, we get a bad rep for not measuring, for being too qualitative, the results that we get.

At Providence, we measure coaching success in three different ways. We do measure kind of satisfaction, would you recommend, et cetera? We also measure something, I think Kim was referring to, which is progress on the goals that you lay out at the very beginning. The goals that are aligned to by the coach and by the person's manager. But we also do a qualitative assessment of ROI saying, what perception of value do you think we got in the coaching engagement? How confident are you? What percentage confidence and how much of that do you attribute to the coaching process itself? And so we have a qualitative ROI as well.

And so we bring that data back to our executive team now on a quarterly or biannual basis to say, here's the ROI that we're getting on these coaching engagements to build holistic support as well as some of that leadership support. And when your leaders start seeing that only the high potential folks, only the folks transitioning into bigger roles are getting the benefit, the investment, I think Kara said of executive coaching, it doesn't take too long to turn perceptions around of what those things are and what the value really is of that program. That's my perspective.

Kim Bohr:

And that's fantastic. The measure was the other piece you all referenced that I wanted to touch on. So Kara, I'd love for you to speak to that initial question of, so what is that thing? And maybe it's tied to that idea of measurement that you said, we're going to do this differently. We're going to convince you it's going to be differently. And then how are you looking at measurement inside Smartsheet?

Kara Woods Hamilton:

Yeah, I'd love to share a little bit. I have to say we're not as sophisticated as Greg and Kim's organizations yet. But I think starting with that, what is the purpose and having that really rooted in its investment in leadership and what you're bringing to the org and how you're developing as a leader. I think having an active and involved sponsor is also really helpful to kind of contrast that reputation that the coaching can have as a fix it. To really concentrate on leadership, really concentrate on sponsorship, that grounds us in what our purpose is.

And then one of the things that we did that I thought was very powerful to show that this was different is after the 360 feedback and after the individual development plans have been developed and then worked with the sponsor and then enacted, we went back to that same group that participated in 360 feedback and asked for a progress report. And so I think that makes it really real and different from what people had potentially experienced in the past. And I know as a participant myself, I was even a little nervous when that went out, the progress report, thinking, I really hope that I've been out there in new ways. So, there's a vulnerability that comes with this process as well. Measurement is really important and also connecting with that feeling of we do understand that it is a commitment of yourself.

Kim Bohr:

Absolutely. And I love that you both touched on the idea of that observable behavior change, back to with the Kirkpatrick models from back when. The idea of being able to see that observation is really key. That's the main reason we're so invested in this. Kim, what about you? What are those two pieces that you've intentionally designed into this work?

Kim Wells:

I loved what, Kara, when you said the kind of the vulnerability, so there's kind of an intake process where we're trying to dispel the myth that it is about fix it coaching anymore. And so that becomes one way for us to really share with the leader that this is different. This is going to be different this time. And this is around your own growth and your coaches there, they should help challenge you as well as be your best cheerleader in the corner. And they are not your boss. They are there to not tell you what to do. So one, I guess that piece is really key along with the sponsorship. We do require IDPs as well. And so we measure against that.

It can be tough to sometimes formulate those. So we keep at that with the person being coached until they feel really comfortable that they're working on goals for growth that are important to them and that they know are tied to the organization. And then circling round with the folks who have been involved in both giving feedback, because we always have a feedback piece, whether it's a 360, sometimes we even have designed environmental assessments of multiple teams for a person. And then going back to those same groups so that they can see the progress.

And so those are kind of the key pieces. And we did do a qualitative piece as Greg had mentioned because there's a lot of variability of coaches out there. And I've had some of my worst coaches over the years have been the folks who have been certified and starred and XYZ. They've gotten away with it because they haven't been in a rigorous program or I don't know what. And that's where identifying really effectively vetted coaches for an organization like Waldron. And then we had some other folks that we've used that we've vetted really carefully and oriented to the Hutch has been key.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. In taking this a little bit deeper, each of you have designed who the target audience is, and I'd be curious for you all to share with the audience, perhaps what's the current target audience, and maybe why did you start there, or why are they the target? And then if you've seen on your roadmap that moving throughout the organization, if you could share a little bit about where you see that going next from the idea of taking coaching into this deeper and wider type of concept. Greg, I'll start with you again to share a little bit more about that.

Greg Till:

Awesome. And thank you so much for Kara and Kim responses to those questions. I'm already learning a lot and want to also just reinforce. I mean, the vulnerability and transparency piece that you talked about, Kara, is incredibly important and learning a lot from your program too Kim. Thank you very much for your thoughts.

I think from a coaching program perspective, right now we're focused primarily on executives. Coaching isn't cheap, and there are lots of different ways to develop folks at different levels. And so coaching is one of those things that's very individualized, obviously pretty costly. And so primarily we're focusing on our executive pipeline to maximize their development. We have also recently dipped down to the director level and are doing some team coaching, but not with the same types of techniques or coaches that we're using at the executive levels.

We have tried to, at previous organizations, to skill up all of our HR folks to be executive coaches. That really, frankly, just hasn't worked for us. Coaching skill obviously is core to what we want our HR business partners and caregivers to be able to do. Coaching is kind of like org design. It's one of those things like, if you don't do it often, and if you don't see folks in different organizations, then you might not be adding as much value. And so at least for us we've primarily used external folks at the executive level and have recently kind of also done a similar, but differentiated program for directors and above and teams at that level as well.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Thank you. And Kara, what about you all?

Kara Woods Hamilton:

Well, as I've mentioned, we started with our senior leadership team and I think we've expanded to people coming into leadership positions, which we would think of as people coming into that VP level. That's where we're concentrating right now. We have also done a little bit of team coaching. We had a coach work directly with our entire senior leadership team on building communication skills where I'm really excited we're developing a program right now to extend that to what we call our core leadership team, which is the VP level and above and trying to give them that same sense.

So it's a group of about 34 people and doing a series of sessions on communication. So it's not coaching, but it's really bringing in some of those elements of exploring who you are as a leader and together trying to figure that out. It's all been external. We have a really robust HR business partner program internally at Smartsheet that I'm really proud of that we've been able to develop, but it is very different, as Greg said, than coaching. Obviously as HRBPs do some one-on-one coaching to try to work through things with their leaders, but very different. I have hopes of an internal coaching program down the road, but that's where we are now.

Kim Bohr:

Great. Kim, what about you? Where does this land for you in this work here?

Kim Wells:

Right. We're probably a little bit less organized, I think, in our focus than Providence or Smartsheet. And it's been a little bit, well on the change even this past year, I was starting to reflect on where we've changed and the healthcare side has been really different from the research side. We do target directors and above in our coaching, but we haven't had a formal program where we've brought in everyone.

But we're beginning to see, and I think this is where we're going to be moving kind of post pandemic life and working on COVID studies is looking at new leaders being brought in, in particular, because in many pockets we're growing. And so being able to have the leaders come in and do some really important work. We've hired them because they're great. And what are the areas that they could grow in as they first come in and are doing their leader assimilation. So that I think is going to be our direction going forward. But we had been really targeting high potential directors on that.

Kim Bohr:

So it's wonderful to hear you saying that there's starting to look at this onboarding component as well, which is, I think also really important to start to tap in and get people on the right track because everybody comes in with some areas of gaps. And so that's great to hear. Wonderful idea. And all of you spoke a little bit about the unique nature that external partners play in the strategy of the work you do. And I think that's also really important for the audience to hear.

And so as we continue the conversation, again, please, anybody who's interested and has a question on your mind, pop it into the chat box or the Q&A section, and we'll make sure we get those addressed as well. One of the things that I'd love for our panel to speak to a little bit about is what is your idea around perhaps where technology comes into play into this land of executive coaching? Or coaching perhaps in a broader sense, because I know there's a lot of buzz around technology opportunities and as you all are speaking about where you might go, I'm curious what your thoughts are on that. And Greg, I'll start with you. I've got my circle here. What are your thoughts on that?

Greg Till:

I'll give you a couple of thoughts. I also wanted to circle back though to the thing that I remembered clicked in my head, I apologize, that I really loved about Kim's approach, which is orienting the coaches to your organization's culture, strategy and purpose. That's another reason I think is a little bit of a hack of a successful coaching program is making sure the coaches themselves know what you're trying to accomplish. And that's been one of our critical success factors in the last couple of organizations that I have been in. Kudos to you Kim for mentioning that, I agree.

From a technology perspective, I think the sky's the limit. I mean, right now we're actually moving all of our caregiver relations virtual and to a centralized hub. I think we could do a lot more of that with coaching as well. Obviously coaching itself has gone virtual for the most part in 2020. And I think leaders have seen that they've been able to develop really strong relationships in the existing model.

And future models, technology sometimes can read the emotional quotient of leaders even better than humans can. And so I do think that there might be some human machine interface that could be helpful when coaching leaders in specific instances. Having a hard conversation with a caregiver, reading people's intent versus what their words are. Maybe technology could help to apply some micro learnings in addition to what the human coaching is able to do. I'd say for now short term virtual coaching and the same model, but longer term, I think technology is going to make a big impact as AI really helps us to pick on some of the micro movements that have faced us and helping leaders with their influence and perception management.

Kim Bohr:

That's wonderful. It's a great way to look at it as well. And Kara, do you have sense of that for what you've been building out?

Kara Woods Hamilton:

I actually don't, but I'm fascinated by the thought of what AI could bring. We've been okay continuing our program virtually. We've all adjusted this year. And I think there is a new level of exhaustion that comes with so much video work, but still it is effective. I think we've all learned to accommodate. I'm excited and open to what the future would bring. And I've certainly been impressed with tools and tooling that we've used, like through the 360 process and through EQ assessments and things like that, I've been surprised how insightful they are, the things that I've been exposed to so far.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. And Kim, do you all have leveraging technology now or thoughts of it in the future in any way that we're talking about?

Kim Wells:

Right. Yeah, so definitely the virtual and I think we're learning that virtual coaching can work really well. There's a component of what we've put into our program, where we have the person who's going to be coached choose their coach so that we give them some kind of understanding of how to choose perhaps effectively. What I'm excited about is people being able to then work with someone who might be far away or we've got someone who's far away now as an employee and they can choose a coach in Seattle. And so that I think is going to be really incredible.

I think the piece that is going to be really important, and this is maybe not technology at all, but I think as we think about making coaching more inclusive, so folks are actually being able to find coaches who they feel can understand what they might be going through, given their community. And I think that is something that as organizations, we want to pay attention to. We've got a pool of kind of our approved coaches, I think we need to broaden that. As we say to folks, we want you to choose someone who you think is really going to push you. Who is going to understand your reality and who is going to also support you. That I think is, maybe it's not technological outside of the fact that we can spread our coaching for our folks across areas.

Kim Bohr:

It's an important piece you mentioned, because that is something that even from our Waldron lens, we had a philosophy for a really long time pre-COVID that not only is it face-to-face, but it's very much regionalized. And what we've learned through all of this is that that doesn't have to be. We can find fabulous coaches that as you said, have more representation of what this individual is experiencing or wants to experience, and it doesn't have to be in our backyard anymore. And I think that that's one of the changes that we believe is going to last with us well beyond this pandemic, whenever we get into whatever this new world will look like.

And I think, Greg, you brought up something really interesting that I think our audience could really benefit from. And it was based off of, Kim, what you had teed up. So you had both started to talk about how do you orient the coaches to the culture. And I think that's something that is really important for setting up a successful strategic program. I know that in the case of Providence, we're very much aligned to orienting the coaches to very specific, the leadership competencies, the culture and organization. And so we do that level of intimacy, I know with Providence. I'd love to hear each of you speak a little bit about that cultural alignment.

But also one of the things I think you've been hitting on, and maybe you all could dive a little deeper into is, how do you communicate internally so that people recognize what they're getting into? So we've talked about how if it's poor communication, how people might think this is more meant from a performance standpoint, but how does that look inside so that it feels like people who are listening, who are trying to figure out how to make this a strategic alignment can take some of what you share and implement it. Again, Greg, I'll start with you in that. Either pieces of those that you feel like you could add some value to for our audience we'd love to hear from you.

Greg Till:

Yeah, this might be a place where I love to learn other people's perspectives. Coaching for us isn't you raise your hand and you get one. As I said earlier, it's aligned to our strategic processes, including our talent management and succession pipeline processes. And so we designate who we thinks, again, back to Kim's point, are the most coachable, number one. There are folks that aren't coachable, you shouldn't be getting them coaches. Number two, who's going to be going through a big transition into a new role or needs to step up to a new level of performance based on what we perceive their potential to be.

We select those folks to get coaches, again, because it is such an individualized and frankly costly development process that it really doesn't take a lot of selling because we do, like I mentioned, go back to our executives and talk about the value of coaching quite a bit as one of the many developmental options that we have in our toolbox. We kind of have natural buy-in from the folks that are assigning or asking us to help them select folks into the coaching process. And so I'd love to hear from Kara or Kim, if you have different ideas about that. For us, we don't sell it. We don't want 2000 people to have coaches. Probably not a great value proposition for us. So we don't sell it as much. How about you, Kara?

Kara Woods Hamilton:

I think it does all come down to the invitation to it. And I think right now in our organization, it is seen as a positive as an investment as you're coming into leadership. We're on our journey as an organization is building a feedback and development for all of our employees. So really trying to be intentional about creating culture of feedback of everyone should be thinking about their development and their next. So I think that spirit is there. So when someone is invited to have a coach, it does feel like an investment.

And I just wanted to touch on the, I agree the importance of having coaches strategically aligned with mission, vision values for the organization is huge. We have that now, I didn't think of that when we first launched the program as a moment that we should have done that. It happened organically and I'm really pleased that it did. And I would definitely put that in your column of if you're launching, be intentional about it, because I think it, as I said, it happened and I think it happened pretty quickly, but it could just as easily have not. And then we would have had a bit of a gap.

Kim Bohr:

Kim, what about you?

Kim Wells:

To kind of carry on with Kara's comment, I think our overall people do see it as a really positive thing. This will maybe seem really mundane, but we've got a so you are thinking about coaching because we've had, here's the defined level of folks who can receive a coach. And so we're small enough now, that we were allowing VPs to choose, hey, I'd love to have this person gain some strength in this area. They're a rockstar now.

And so we've got a couple of pretty dense documents that we send. We spend a lot of time actually working on those. And they describe the purpose of coaching and of the IDPs and how we're going to evaluate and all those kind of aspects of the process. So folks come in with hopefully a pretty good understanding of this is what it looks like. And then that first step is to have a coachability conversation. We say this is a ride and are you in for it, and then we'll help take you through the ride.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Just to keep our conversation going, thank you all three of you. We've got some questions coming in from our audience. And one question I'm going to attach a little bit more to it is, somebody's curious about, speak to the difference between a coach and a mentor, but also, can you also expand to perhaps, what is the little pod of sorts that supports somebody around coaching? So I know in some organizations, in HRBP plays a very significant role, and others not. And so I'd be curious to have you, whomever wants to speak to this idea of how you interpret the coaching and mentor, and then perhaps what goes into a pod when you've got somebody formerly being coached. Anybody who wants to jump in.

Kim Wells:

I'll jump in on that one. Actually I'm thinking of our little document, we have a little picture of the pod, so maybe that's why I'm jumping in on that. It's a group of concentric circles. So in our pod is both the HR context. Sometimes that could be an HRBP. It for the most part, actually is someone from the organization development area. So we've got our folks who are managing the coaching program in our department. We will partner certainly with HRBPS, but there is also this line of, I think it's a tension we have perhaps in the whole human people and culture field. It's that tension of confidentiality. So how do we help the leader feel as if they can be working with their coach, showing they're being vulnerable and then not having to share it with the world?

And so because of the pot is too big, I think we started to break that. That's a tension I've found over the years that you have to negotiate with your other colleagues within our people and culture field. The pod really is around both the person running the program, the sponsor, the coachee and the coach. And we really do try to have this semi-permanent wall between the coach and the coachee with absolutely then recommendations that are going to go back, meetings with the sponsor on a regular basis. So we try to put through the process ways to keep that permeable, but have this layer of confidence. It's a dance for us of confidentiality. I hope that's helpful as far as...

Kim Bohr:

Yeah, absolutely. Anybody else have any additional thoughts to add in on that idea of pod or coach versus mentor?

Greg Till:

This isn't all right, so don't take this to the bank, but my initial thoughts. I kind of did a two column thing. I mean, a mentor is supportive, a coach is also supportive, but I'd say more driving. Mentors mostly for us are internal, coaches are mostly external. Mentors are mostly broad career development focused, coaches are more specific around behaviors or performance focus. Mentors are maybe ongoing in relationship from a measurement perspective. And our coaches get measured on the success of the outcomes that they're helping to create. Kind of more informal versus formal. Those are some of the things that I'd say are differentiated for us around those things, but to Kim's point, I see it more as a set of overlapping vectors to help support someone's overall development than something that's absolutely mutually exclusive.

Kim Bohr:

I like that, the overlap, definitely. Kara?

Kara Woods Hamilton:

I'll chime in. Greg, I love that compare and contrast on mentor, coach. I thought you articulated that so well. And I think I would add on the mentor side, often we see mentor relationships developing where they're within the function as well. So you're kind of getting role modeling and maybe getting it's a little smaller than broad and more specific. And it is so relationship-based. Like a mentor relationship can be something that is just so powerful throughout your career when you have that.

Kara Woods Hamilton:

On the pod, we're definitely trying to keep it small as Kim indicated. I think the sponsor is hugely important for that. And for that sponsor to be really committed to it, HRBP support is great. Other than L&D helping to launch, the pod is the coachee, the coach, the sponsor, and the HRBP. And HRBP is kind of dependent on the relationship. I also agree that the privacy that we can offer between coach and coachee, I think is so critical for the progress to happen. And so the sponsor is involved, but the sponsor doesn't get to know everything. Like that's the responsibility of the coach and the coachee to work out. And I know just personally, I've had my coach sometimes offer things that she thought would be important for me to share with my sponsor and important for me to share with a larger group, but we talked about it. And so I had that feeling of safety, where it was on my timeline, but pushing, pushing me for sure, there's these moments.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. So one other question, and Kim, I'm going to ask you to start with this, because you mentioned measuring for coachability. So somebody is asking, what do you do? How do you measure to determine if somebody is coachable?

Kim Wells:

A couple of things, and we use some questions as we go through around both describe for us, you've been chosen by your VP or you've begun to talk with your VP about coaching or you are the VP and you've been chosen by your EVP. So we ask about, do they understand the process and what's their excitement level about working on these areas? As we talk about the process, we say, as you think about how many hours you might need to commit to this, how are you feeling about that? What's your own sense of your need to work in these areas?

Kim Wells:

If there's been an area, let's say they're considered high potential, but they're their own leader, and themselves have said, Bob, I think there's something that will only enhance your effectiveness and it's this. What does the coachee say about working on that? And if we were to start to get someone who said, well, it's really Bob's problem. It's a system's problem. It could be perhaps they're not coachable, or it's not the right timing because maybe it really is a systemic problem that working with the individual leader right now is not really the solution, it's more of a team coaching situation. And so we'll try to tease that out. And if someone is extra defensive regarding coaching, we'll even sometimes ask quite frankly, so on a scale of one to ten, how excited are you about this? And if someone says, well, I'm a four, but if this will help my career, I'll do it. And people will be surprisingly pretty honest.

Kim Bohr:

Wow. That's great. That's very helpful. Kara, Greg, do you have anything to add to that? I know you may not look at it quite this way, but it'd be curious if you do.

Kara Woods Hamilton:

Just to add that I think that checking in, we don't have a formal assessment readiness kind of checklist or anything, but I think we have talked to some people as we've been inviting to coaching, and it really hasn't been a great time, like to Kim's point it is, do you have the time and the bandwidth to take this on? Some people, frankly, it wasn't a good time and we were able to articulate that because we had the conversation and it became a not now, but a bit later. It's true, you want to be able to give it the attention it deserves. So I think that's also something for the organization to think about that if someone says it's not right now, that that's okay, that's actually them really being thoughtful with the receipt of that invitation. It doesn't have to be a now only kind of thing.

Greg Till:

The only thing I'd add, I think those are great is that I'm not sure if Waldron does. I know some other organizations have a coachability scale. That we've kind of used. We don't have a formal way to do it at Providence, but extremely low coaching would be like narcissistic personality. Extremely high coaching has intrinsic need to grow. For me it kind of boils down to one word, which is humility. If the leader sees feedback, wants feedback and can be humble about their growth and development, not only are they a great coachee, but they're a great fit with our mission and values. That's what I'd offer them.

Kim Bohr:

That's wonderful. And thank you all for everything you've been sharing, it's just incredibly informative. As we start to come up on our closing out our time together, there's one last question I want to pose and have you share with us, maybe look at it for fold. So one is, as people you've all mentioned the importance of external partners in making this happen, can you speak to perhaps some of the, what do you value in a partner? What do you look forward to bring a partner in? I know you've mentioned about cultural alignment, but if you can say a little bit more about that, that might give our audience some guidance. And then also any closing thoughts you have for those people that were either in process or had said no, or were not aligned yet strategically, that you want to give some closing words on, that would be great, and I'll open it up to whoever wants to jump in first.

Kara Woods Hamilton:

I'll start. I'm a little bit unformed on my response here, but I'll start since we're pushing up on time. I think Waldron is the only partner that we've worked with, so I don't have a great compare and contrast, but I've been very happy. And I feel the things that I value, there are many but getting to that alignment very quickly, understanding where we are in the process, the tools and techniques that are available and the ability to get a choice of coaches that we can provide, I think it's really important for building that trust that coachees can feel like they have some autonomy in choosing someone that feels in alignment with them. And I think that can come in a lot of forms. I don't know why people choose the coaches they do, but they have their own kind of internal system for that, for lack of a better word. So I think allowing that autonomy, I think helps build the trust right from the beginning, which I think is really great. I'll stop there.

Greg Till:

A lot of the same for us. I'd say the coaching firms that we work with, number one, have to match our culture and values and really want to understand us. Number two, they need to be aligned to measuring success. I really do believe that there's so much variability in the types of coaches that are out there that you really need to make sure that you're aligned on those pieces. I think number three, the desire to continuously improve. And then number four, just a great partner. And that's kind of qualitative. It's a little squishy, but I have frequent calls with the Waldron CEO of my companies, and he's just as good of a coach to me all of his coaches are to our partners. And so I really enjoy that relationship.

And on your second question around how to potentially move from a disparate to a systemic coaching approach. I mean, I think it's the same answer I'd give on an almost every related question, which is you need to be able to articulate the value. And in order to do that, you need to be able to articulate the results, even if they're qualitative results or different types of improvement results. I think it's really hard to spend 20 to $30,000 on something, on one individual and then not be able to articulate what value you're getting from it. So that'd be my biggest piece of advice.

Kim Bohr:

Thank you.

Kim Wells:

Yeah. And so I guess I would just echo what both Kara and Greg has said. Absolutely aligning yourself with someone who you know wants to approach coaching from an evaluation method, who values the choice of the coachee choosing coaches. And for me it's also around trusting. We have some Waldron coaches and I trust the quality also. There's a quality piece, so that I want to understand that the coaches that an organization has chosen to be in their bench are are as aligned to what their overall organization stands for and are facile. We need folks sometimes who are pretty nimble, because we've got a complex org. So they've got to understand why a scientists might be looking at the world very differently as they run their own shop versus an administrative VP.

Kim Bohr:

Wonderful. Well, we are now at time and I want to thank all three of you for the wonderful insight you've shared, your expertise, your own vulnerability in showing up and giving the perspective today. And I want to thank our attendees who've stuck with us, who've given us great questions to work with. So thank you again panel for being with us. Thank you for your partnership. And we hope everybody has a great rest of their week.

 


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